Taking TV Groups at Their Own Game
In case you didn't notice, this column is a close relative. It's called Television Watch. Actually the two have little in common: Television Watch is a media critique analyzing the news and those who report on it.
TV Watch is a political group, advocating parental responsibility instead of federal regulation - all to combat those conservative and religious groups who have pleaded for more federal regulation against the broadcast networks and other entertainment venues.
In announcing its effort, TV Watch released a national survey, showing 91 percent of Americans do not want their programming choices dictated by "the sensitivities of a few." A Daily Variety story said the allusion was to groups like the Washington, D.C.-based Parents Television Council (PTV), which is run by the conservative Beltway voice, Brent Bozell.
Interestingly, PTV is kind of a misnomer in this regard. It virtually never fosters the idea of parental guidance in its tirades and instead preaches for more federal regulation against the big bad media companies.
TV Watch makes no bones about where it is coming from - Viacom, News Corp., and NBC Universal have provided the start money. No doubt this is an attempt to help their customers buying commercial time, who sometimes question the networks' programming motives.
Bozell already checked in on the group essentially calling it a tool that will do the "dirty work" for CBS, ABC, and NBC. He may be right. But as much as independent and individual Americans run TV Watch, parents run the Parents Television Council.
TV Watch seems to be hitting the conservative TV groups where it matters the most. Conservatives talk parenting game when it comes to TV indecency, but that's just background noise. It's laziness, really. They want someone else - the federal government, namely -- to be responsible, which ironically, is more of a liberal motif.
The truth is there will always be unsuitable television - some of it truly offensive and harming to children.
You can't protect all of it coming into your living room - nor lots of other non-TV stuff. Maybe you can stop 80 percent of it, which is pretty good. For the other 20 percent, that means difficult conversations with children.
Of course, for the lazy-inclined, you can just cede that responsibility to TV itself -- "Dr. Phil" or "SuperNanny" or "Nanny 911" -- for expert advice.